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Draconian DRM Revealed In Windows 7 1127

Posted by kdawson
from the just-who-did-you-think-owns-your-machine dept.
TechForensics writes "A few days' testing of Windows 7 has already disclosed some draconian DRM, some of it unrelated to media files. A legitimate copy of Photoshop CS4 stopped functioning after we clobbered a nagging registration screen by replacing a DLL with a hacked version. With regard to media files, the days of capturing an audio program on your PC seem to be over (if the program originated on that PC). The inputs of your sound card are severely degraded in software if the card is also playing an audio program (tested here with Grooveshark). This may be the tip of the iceberg. Being in bed with the RIAA is bad enough, but locking your own files away from you is a tactic so outrageous it may kill the OS for many persons. Many users will not want to experiment with a second sound card or computer just to record from online sources, or boot up under a Linux that supports ntfs-3g just to control their files." Read on for more details of this user's findings.

Re — Photoshop: That Photoshop stopped functioning after we messed with one of its nag DLLs was not so much a surprise, but what was a surprise: Noting that Win7 allows programs like Photoshop to insert themselves stealthily into your firewall exception list. Further, that the OS allows large software vendors to penetrate your machine. Even further, that that permission is responsible for disabling of a program based on a modified DLL. And then finding that the OS even after reboot has locked you out of your own Local Settings folder; has denied you permission to move or delete the modified DLL; and refuses to allow the replacement of the Local Settings folder after it is unlocked with Unlocker to move it to the Desktop for examination (where it also denies you entry to your own folder). Setting permissions to 'allow everyone' was disabled!

Re — media: Under XP you could select 'Stereo Mix' or similar under audio recording inputs and nicely capture any program then playing. No longer.
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Draconian DRM Revealed In Windows 7

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  • Re:Yes, and no. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @09:37PM (#26881387)

    You own your computer, they own the software (in this instance). You bought a license to run that software on your machine as is.

    Don't like it? Don't use it. There are alternatives. Simple.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Monday February 16, 2009 @09:43PM (#26881473)

    One word:

    kdawson

  • Re:Yes, and no. (Score:2, Informative)

    by poopdeville (841677) on Monday February 16, 2009 @09:53PM (#26881607)

    Indeed, it is a good thing.

    OS X has done this for some classes of files since Leopard came out, though the implementation is transparent to (most) users.

    If you go in and mess around with a .plist you aren't "supposed" to -- like the launchd plist set, the change will be reverted when you reboot. You can get around that by cryptographically signing the new .plist yourself, using the provided tools and your administrator credentials.

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Monday February 16, 2009 @09:54PM (#26881617)

    That's what DRM is - it's software that takes ownership of your computer away from you, for as long as you use that software.

    It's like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, where you ask to do something core to the basic function of the hardware, and the software denies you access in order to fulfill the wishes of another. "I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave," is replaced with disabled dialog elements.

    Because as long as DRM is active, it really isn't your computer. Try to use it, and for reasons that aren't on a functional basis, it will refuse in favor of the wishes of another. Try to break those protections, and you've broken the law. By running DRM, your computer no longer exists to execute your instructions, but to execute the wishes of the DRM creator. That's what makes it "Digital Rights Management" - your rights and computer are being managed against what might be your intentions.

    Ryan Fenton

  • Re:Just say no (Score:3, Informative)

    by RuBLed (995686) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:06PM (#26881767)
    I had used Ubuntu before but now I find that Linux Mint, which is an Ubuntu derivative, is more user friendly and just-works (tm). (what makes Linux great is still there but it now caters much better to my lazy side.)

    Couple that with the fact that I could run WOW in WINE, I had purged myself of Windows in my home system.
  • Re:Virtual machine (Score:5, Informative)

    by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:08PM (#26881791)

    ...but what was a surprise: Noting that Win7 allows programs like Photoshop to insert themselves stealthily into your firewall exception list

    Given the firewall issue...

    What's with this "Windows 7 firewall issue" nonsense? This is how it has always worked for the Windows firewall, XP and Vista suffers from the same flaw. It isn't new or surprising for Windows 7.

  • Re:Yes, and no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:18PM (#26881907)
    Linux protects the dynamic libraries by putting them in a folder with read only permissions. If you have root access and want to break the libraries, it won't stop you.
  • Re:windows, meh (Score:3, Informative)

    by markdavis (642305) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:19PM (#26881915)

    And you will face the EXACT same problem if you tried to install generic MS-Windows yourself on some hardware. Install bombs, incompatible drivers, missing drivers, trying to download and find drivers, configuring settings and drivers. Yet, if you bought a machine with preconfigured Linux, it would all "just work". Yours is hardly a "fair" comparison.

    The EEE I just bought has Linux, and every single thing on it works perfectly. Imagine that. And it is just as easy to use as any MS-Windows (and yet faster and less expensive).

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:21PM (#26881957)
    The masses. Who thinks that even if we were living under Stalin but still had CNN and lived in the good old US of A that we were the most free country on the face of the planet ever and ever to be in the future. The masses don't care about DRM, in fact, the *AA would rather they not even know it existed. As long as people can point to a country and say those people there are oppressed and we look somewhat different then them, they will think they are free. As long as the media can throw out various human rights violations in China the masses won't think that its happening here.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:27PM (#26882045)

    My hardware can operate on information, but the hardware is still my property.

  • Re:windows, meh (Score:2, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:29PM (#26882069) Homepage Journal

    Neat, so you don't even know what RAID is for [2brightsparks.com]. Well done.

    Think I've had about enough of you, go away now.

  • Lies, Lies, Lies (Score:5, Informative)

    by svunt (916464) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:45PM (#26882227) Homepage Journal
    Weird, none of the stuff in the article above is true on my Win 7 install. None of it. CS4 works like a charm, no hacking required. Capturing sound is really easy too, this whole thing is not just FUD, it's a bare-faced pack of lies. Shame on you /. for just accepting this utter nonsense because it speaks to your biases.
  • Re:Virtual machine (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kalriath (849904) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:47PM (#26882261)

    It's not even a flaw - you gave Photoshop's installer permission to act administratively on your behalf, so it's exactly what it did!

  • Re:Irrelevant (Score:3, Informative)

    by Skillet5151 (972916) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:57PM (#26882359)
    Downloading the flv (with Flashgot media or otherwise) then using FLV Extract [moitah.net] is faster and will result in better quality audio.
  • Re:Virtual machine (Score:5, Informative)

    by Z34107 (925136) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:59PM (#26882367)

    What's with this "Windows 7 firewall issue" nonsense? This is how it has always worked for the Windows firewall, XP and Vista suffers from the same flaw. It isn't new or surprising for Windows 7.

    Exactly! Furthermore, Windows 7's firewall is fully configurable! (Not sure if Vista's was; I use Vista, but I have an IPCop box for that.)>/p>

    If you're running Windows 7, run wf.msc. Inbound rules... outbound rules... Different rules for different locations... It's actually usable and filters inbound and outbound traffic!

  • Unfortunately, you'll never get manufacturers to ditch support for Windows like that, it quite simply has critical mass, and... Linux isn't ready for the mainstream yet.

  • Re:No it wouldn't (Score:4, Informative)

    by Keruo (771880) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:17AM (#26883013)

    It's called downgrade right, although it'll still show as a sale in microsoft books.
    If you buy vista (or windows 7) business or ultimate version, it gives you right to run windows 2000 pro or xp pro.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:12AM (#26883767)

    it's = "it is"
    its = "something belonging to it"

  • Re:windows, meh (Score:3, Informative)

    by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:27AM (#26883821) Homepage

    I set up software RAID with a pair of 1TB SATA drives on a custom-built Gentoo box several months ago. It was almost trivially easy; it was certainly no more difficult than regular partitioning, other than an easy few extra commands to initialize the RAID array.

    Setting up RAID in Windows still requires a floppy drive. A FLOPPY DRIVE! It sickens me.

  • by cliffski (65094) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:58AM (#26883961) Homepage

    the government is enforcing contract law, as it does EVERYWHERE. You arent fucking forced to buy Windows. Go use linux and stop bitching.

    You are like the kid who decides to go see a movie he will hate, so he can complain the movie sucks.

    Some people just like whining

  • by tapanitarvainen (1155821) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:06AM (#26885141)

    I have long found it perplexing that the music and movie industries get to call the shots for the vastly larger software industry when it comes to legislation. I can only assume that the software industry must have some incredibly shitty lobbyists. It's not like it doesn't cost Microsoft money to pay developers to engineer their operating system to RIAA/MPAA specifications.

    It is a competitive advantage to M$ if they can claim competition is illegal - like that popular activities like listening to music or watching videos cannot be legally done in Linux.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:47AM (#26885527) Journal

    Yep, there are pretty much two: Linux and BSD

    Wow, and Slashdot used to be the place for people who knew about the open source world. BSD isn't an option, it's a family of options with three or four major ones (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and DragonflyBSD) and a few minor ones. There's also OpenSolaris if you want a UNIX-like system and prefer the SysV side of the family tree, and HURD is now usable, although doesn't support as much hardware as the other options, as is Minix 3.

    But UNIX-like systems aren't the only open source operating systems out there. There others, like Haiku or ReactOS, which provide a completely different environment. There's Plan 9 if you want something more UNIX than UNIX, and more obscure ones, like Syllable, KolibriOS, MenuetOS, or AROS, are also usable.

    There are lots of options out there. If you don't want a Free Software OS there are a lot of proprietary alternatives too, like SkyOS, QNX (Neutrino is quite a nice desktop), Zeta, and the two RiscOS derivatives.

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:48AM (#26885541)

    Applications->Add/Remove->Install firestarter

    If you googled for just 1 second you'd have found a GUI firewall.

  • The Exception (Score:5, Informative)

    by DnemoniX (31461) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @09:25AM (#26886003)

    All of the new Adobe CS4 collection of applications "phone home" now and here is why.

    The license allows two installs of an application, based on concurrent use, for example Photoshop could be installed on your workstation and on your laptop with the understanding that you are only using one of them at a time. This is very common. Most applications simply force a registration of the serial number and only allow X number of activations, i.e. Microsoft Office. What Adobe does is check how many machines have that serial installed on it and if you attempt to activate a third it will tell you that you have exceeded the number allowed and that you must deactivate one of the other installs. The software makes it easy to deactivate itself so you can reinstall elsewhere. The silly part is that Adobe sets an entry in your hosts file pointing to activation.adobe.com or something close to that.

    If you install the software the first time with your computer disconnected from the internet and change that host file entry to 127.0.0.1 and then reconnect to the internet it will not be able to call home and will assume it is installed on a machine that is not connected to the internet.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @10:53AM (#26887381)

    I would assume that they allow installers signed by Microsoft-approved certificates to modify the firewall. This would mean that any only joe-the-hacker with a compiler can not do it.

    A quick google search shows that this is wrong. Here is the officially published API [microsoft.com]. Or if you want, you can just write to the registry. Here is the code in C# [codeguru.com]. The C# compiler comes with .NET, so everyone can do this.

    I guess this means that if you beef up the security on those registry keys then you could prevent any software from adding themselves to the exception list. Just make an Administrator account for installing that does not have access to those keys... I might have to try this out.

  • by Myria (562655) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @11:06AM (#26887681)

    When, ahem, poking around in the Windows 7 kernel (ntoskrnl.exe), I found something interesting and new to Windows 7: it detects virtual machines. If it finds a virtual machine, it will check the Windows licensing data to see whether your edition of Windows is allowed to run as a VM. It seems like they're putting in enforcement of the EULA rules that were in Vista, but I have no way to test this, since the beta is the Ultimate edition.

    The VM detection code itself is rather straightforward: it checks how long it takes to do an opcode that should be very quick ("mov rax, cr3"). Under a hardware VM, this would trap to the hypervisor, causing a delay. The code validates that "rdtsc" time is not elapsing excessively, which would indicate a hypervisor.

    If you're making a hardware-assisted hypervisor, you should make use of the virtualization features of the CPU to apply an offset to rdtsc so that the traps to the hypervisor don't get detected this way. AMD processors support this; no idea about Intel.

  • Here [wikipedia.org] you go, wiki is your friend! I would ask you to please note the following part, quote:"n order to prevent users from copying DRM content, Windows Vista provides process isolation and continually monitors what kernel-mode software is loaded." Please note the words CONTINUALLY MONITORS. You DO know that you can't get something for nothing right? And that everything has a cost? The ONLY way for the "protected path" DRM to work would be for it to monitor you 24/7/365, otherwise you could simply hack it or load an Alcohol 120% style virtual device with hacked keys BEFORE you loaded the DRM content. So to ensure you "filthy pirate you" that you don't pull any fast ones it HAS to monitor you 24/7.

    So while all the Vista fans(all 6 of you) would love to think that they have invented some magically "resource free" DRM, sorry to burst your bubble. Everything costs, and DRM doesn't really have a prayer in hell if it can actually be turned off for ANY reason, even if you are not doing anything to actually NEED DRM. And if you want to know why you are being boned with this crap, please read Comes VS Microsoft [gotthefacts.org] to see where Jim Allchin and Bill Gates talk about DRM and their need for "scenarios" to try to shut down the iPod. pretty much ALL they talk about is how to lock in the users. And for those that work in business here [infoworld.com] is a view of Win7 from the enterprise perspective, and here [engadget.com] is a view of Win7 from the performance POV.

    I hope this illuminates readers and helps your realize that complaint about DRM are NOT FUD, but simply complaints about performance robbing crap that does ZERO for the user. I myself saw it with Vista Beta 1, which ran damned fast on this 3.6GHz P4 with 2GB of RAM, but when RTM rolled around and I got my free copy for Beta testing it was like those car commercials where they dump the ton of sludge on the race car. It sucked so bad I gave my copy of Vista away and last I heard it was being passed from person to person like an unwanted fruitcake.

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